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The History of The Vintage Sports Tee

by Michael Leonard on August 12, 2021

The vintage sports tee is the go-to for many and has been a staple in the fashion world since its inception.

Additionally, the raglan and short-sleeve Henley are also making a comeback with their resurgence of popularity. So what exactly is the history behind these styles?

There’s a rich story here as intricate as the design.

 

The Raglan

When you think of a raglan shirt, what springs to mind? Maybe it's that underdog team from your favorite TV show.

Or maybe the style is more associated with streetwear than anything else. But really this name comes not from fabric choice or color but rather construction and design - in particular its long sleeves!

These tees are characterized by having sleeves that extend down to the collar line so they're made for layering over other garments like cardigans.

The sleeve on these shirts can be anywhere from two inches below shoulder length, right up past elbows - perfect for people who enjoy cold weather without sacrificing sun protection!

 

What is a Raglan Shirt?

The raglan sleeve has an interesting history. It began as a wartime solution to help one Lord Raglan to move seamlessly after losing his right hand in battle.

Following this, the tee became popular in the 60s due to its aesthetic appeal. Today, it's an iconic staple of modern fashion that can't be missed from any wardrobe!


When Was The Raglan Sleeve Invented?

Lord Raglan, who the sleeve was named after, lost his right arm due to severe wounds developed in battle in 1815. After this, Lord Raglan’s tailor customized a flexible enough sleeve that made dressing an easier experience for him.
This also facilitated a seamless movement for Lord Raglan when he decided to hold and move the sword in battle.



Who Invented Raglan Sleeves?

Raglan sleeves are an invention of the coat producer Aquascutum for Lord Raglan who needed to use his sword while fighting in battle after losing his right arm (as explained above). The new design freed up movement and allowed more range with what Lord Raglan wore on his body. Today, it is used as a popular undergarment worn by Major League Baseball (MLB) players under jerseys.



When Did Raglan Sleeves Become Popular?

The Raglan sleeve has been a popular style on the American baseball scene for decades. The sleeve is said to get its name from Lord John FitzRoy Somerset, or more commonly known as Lord Raglan who died in 1855 and it was not until 9 years later that we saw an official mention of this unique design, in 1864.

It was at this time that the sleeve started to gain attention in the fashion and sporting scenes. Actually, the Raglan sleeve name was first added in the dictionary in 1864, which ultimately contributed to the shirt’s increase in popularity.

 

The Henley

The Henley shirt is another unique garment design that's also coming back in fashion. There is more to this shirt than what only meets the eyes.

So, let's understand more about this style's history, including the culture and story behind its invention below.


What is a Henley Shirt?

A Henley shirt is a collarless pullover that can be worn as casual or formal attire. A popular style of this type, the Henley has long been associated with menswear but is worn by both sexes these days for both work and leisure. The round neckline adds an element of interest to the shirt's design while its plackets are buttoned at varying lengths depending on your preference.

You can wear it with the buttons 3 inches (8 cm) if during warmer weather or 5 inches (13 cm) when it turns colder outside!


When Was The Henley Shirt Invented?

Ralph Lauren became a fashion designer in the 1960s, but it wasn't until he started designing shirts that people took notice. The first shirt style was the famous Polo shirt which is still going strong today.

However, by 1970, Ralph had fallen out of love with this design and discovered a vintage Henley-style t-shirt from his shopping spree abroad. This discovery made him fall back in love with the simplicity of these designs and they soon began to be sold as part of his expanding line for men's wear clothing.


Who Invented The Henley Shirt?

As explained earlier, Ralph Lauren came across the vintage design of the Henley shirt style in the 1970s. He decided to include this shirt style in his collection for selling, so he's the one generally credited for bringing the Henley shirt to menswear.


What is The Purpose of a Henley Shirt?

Henley shirts are unique, stylish, and fit the use in almost every environment – whether formal or casual. Because these shirts lack collars, it means that you won’t have anything flapping on the account of the wind. Moreover, this shirt’s placket of buttons is essential in facilitating proper ventilation during sleep, play, or work. It’s easy to see the versatile nature of this shirt right from its early invention until current times.

To add to the placket of buttons, these elevate the Henley beyond t-shirt standards, which delivers an extra dose of visual attention/interest. Lastly, this look is as great as any other t-shirt style boost that people choose to wear. The best part about a Henley shirt is that you won’t look like you are trying too hard to pull off a look.

 

For the men out there looking for a casual, easy-going shirt that can be worn year-round (or anytime!), we recommend you check out our selection of vintage sports t-shirts. They're perfect for just about any occasion and come in raglan or short sleeve Henley styles so you can choose what's best for your lifestyle.

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